Toonz Media Group partners with Leadbelly Productions for Creepy Candy

Global kids and family entertainment major Toonz Media Group is partnering with Leadbelly Productions to co-produce a brand-new animation property: Creepy Candy.

Developed by multi-award-winning creator and founding president of Leadbelly Productions Alan Jude Summa, Creepy Candy is targeted at children aged 4-11. Season one of the 2D animation show will include 26 x 3-minute episodes and is slated to launch in October 2022. The project’s first phase will also include a 30-minute Halloween special episode to be released in October 2023.

Creepy Candy is a unique property that offers us immense opportunities to explore beyond series development,” says Toonz Media Group CEO P. Jayakumar. “Our idea is to develop this property into a 360-degree brand that includes digital media shorts, mini-movies, consumer products, and other L&M avenues.”

Licensing veteran and CEO of NXT GEN Brand Marketing, Debi Rosenfeld, will work with Toonz on building the brand in the consumer products market.

“We are excited about our partnership with Toonz Media Group, to bring the Creepy Candy story and characters to life in a new animated series and Halloween special,” says Alan Summa. “For years this space has been content with the usual traditional holiday programmes. Creepy Candy is bringing something new and fresh to captivate the imaginations of children and adults alike. We’re bringing the fun and excitement of Halloween all year round! The special is scheduled to air in October 2023 and promises to be a new classic for this popular time of year.”

Debi Rosenfeld adds: “I am thrilled to be working with the Toonz Media Group and the Leadbelly Productions team to partner on the consumer products programme. We will be supporting the team by building a robust merchandising and licensing portfolio with key manufacturers and promotional partners. The Creepy Candy animation series and Halloween special will be packed full of fun, with its spooky candy characters and their creep-elicious adventures, and is sure to delight and captivate young fans around the globe.”

Creepy Candy is the tale of a bag of candy accidently left behind in a spooky old library. On Halloween night the candies mysteriously come to life and are joined by host spirit, Ty Poe, who haunts the old library. The result is a creepily comedic adventure with the candies frantically trying to avoid being eaten by the delightfully wicked librarian, Miss Page Turner.

The show will be distributed worldwide to television and OTT partners by Toonz Entertainment, the distribution wing of Toonz Media Group. Toonz will also leverage its digital ecosystem, social media and existing partnerships with AVOD platforms to build the Creepy Candy brand.

DeAPlaneta and GO-N to co-produce Monster Shaker

DeAPlaneta and French production company GO-N Productions have signed an agreement to coproduce Monster Shaker, the TV series adaptation of the books by Mr Tan and Mathilde Domecq, published by Editions Gallimard.

Monster Shaker (52 x 13’) is an epic adventure comedy, in which 9-year old Justin discovers his grandfather’s cocktail shaker. The magical object allows him to create extraordinary, crazy creatures with incredible powers, but it must be kept secret, no matter what, in case it falls into the wrong hands… 

The first season of this zany series for 6-10 year-olds, comprising 52 episodes, will launch on TV and in France in 2023. The accompanying YouTube channel will broadcast selected episodes. 

DeAPlaneta and GO-N Productions are also working on key initial merchandise categories, including shaker toys, and collectible cocktail shakers “complete with all the crazy monsters featured in the show”. 


Fans invited to explore Wimbledon in the metaverse

In partnership with American Express, the All England Lawn Tennis Club has announced the official launch of The Virtual Hill, a virtual companion experience to the Wimbledon live event.

A day on The Hill is a bucket-list fan experience. The Virtual Hill provides fans worldwide with the chance to share in this unique tradition via a social interactive experience. Fans can create their own personalised avatar, test their Wimbledon knowledge and learn more about the tournament and its history in daily quizzes, pick their own picnic spot, rub shoulders with other visitors from around the world, or invite friends and family to explore the Hill with them.

While reacting to matches with emojis and sharing moments directly to social media, fans can take on daily missions around the Hill for the chance to earn WimbleCoin and daily prizes.

For American Express Cardmembers, alongside exclusive avatar items and picnic blankets, the Virtual Hill features an American Express Lounge and experiences. These include ‘The Andy Murray Experience’, where they’ll be able to go on a quest with the Virtual Sir Andy and capture a selfie, and ‘Up Up We Go’, a hot air balloon experience through which they’ll have a special aerial view of the Hill and a sneak peek into the hidden items around it.

American Express Ambassador Sir Andy Murray says: “The Hill is one of Wimbledon’s most treasured traditions, and I’ve certainly hugely appreciated the atmosphere fans on The Hill add to the Wimbledon spirit. Making sure we create the same type of feeling and passion in the virtual world is critical to driving engagement with fans who don’t get to be here, and so I’m really proud to be part of the Virtual Hill. Make sure you track me down and I’ll set you some challenges to complete while you’re there.”

Shiz Suzuki, Vice President, Global Experiential Marketing & Partnerships at American Express, says: “Recreating special memories is an important part of what we want to bring to tennis fans this year during Wimbledon, and the Virtual Hill is an important example of this. We can’t wait to celebrate our fourth year partnering with The Championships, and to give fans across the globe access to the iconic Wimbledon Hill, in its virtual form, to experience their own unforgettable moments.’

“The Hill at Wimbledon is one of our most iconic traditions, and, in partnership with American Express, we are thrilled to be immortalising that experience through the Virtual Hill,” adds Alexandra Willis, Communications and Marketing Director at Wimbledon. “Making sure we are always finding new ways to reach and engage with fans is a critical part of our strategy, so whether it is choosing your outfit, or taking on the daily missions, or simply just having a lovely picnic, we hope everyone enjoys this innovative experience in celebration of Wimbledon 2022.”

YouTube sensation Spy Ninjas set to tour U.S. this autumn

Surge Licensing has signed an agreement with live-tour company Cut & Mustard to bring YouTube sensation Spy Ninjas to over 30 cities across the U.S.  The announcement was made today by Elan Freedman, EVP Surge Licensing, Spy Ninja’s global licensing agent.

Featuring Chad Wild Clay and Vy Qwaint, Spy Ninjas are a team of YouTubers on a mission to save the internet from Project Zorgo, an evil organization of hackers.  With over 40 million YouTube subscribers and over 13 billion views across its YouTube channels, Spy Ninjas is a certifiable YouTube sensation.

With the new Spy Ninjas Live tour, the Spy Ninjas crew will take their detective, martial arts, and hacking skills from the screen to the stage, crisscrossing through many U.S. cities starting this autumn. VIP packages are available and include a pre-show meet and greet with Chad and Vy, exclusive limited-edition merchandise, VIP lanyard, limited-edition photo signed by Chad and Vy, and early access to merchandise stands. Spy Ninjas Live is expected to visit more than 30 U.S. cities beginning with its first leg this October and November, as well as another run in February and March 2023.

In Spy Ninjas Live, the Spy Ninjas have discovered the presence of a Hacker Sleeper cell across North America and must quickly reach major cities to defeat it.  They are taking over local theatres to use as their headquarters and will have access to surveillance and a team of local Ninja associates — the audience — to dismantle the cell.

Spy Ninjas quickly became a YouTube sensation with their serialized narrative-based adventures that are truly engaging and a cool combination of spy adventures, clue solving and high-octane ninja action,” says Surge Licensing’s Freedman. “We are confident that Cut & Mustard will bring their superb creative and production skills to make the Spy Ninja’s Live tour a must-attend event for their legions of fans.”

“We are incredibly excited to visit our millions of fans across the U.S. to deliver a one-of-a-kind entertainment experience,” adds Spy Ninjas’ Chad Wild Clay and Vy Qwaint. “Like our YouTube videos, we’ll combine martial arts, stealth, and detective work to battle the Hackers, all with the help of our local Spy Ninja fans.”

“This action-packed and family-friendly show is the first touring production based on Spy Ninjas’ hit YouTube series and is a great opportunity for fans to see their favourite YouTube stars live on stage,” says Tom Greenwood-Mears, Managing Director at live-tour company Cut & Mustard and Executive Producer of the tour. “At the same time, this dynamic show will offer many young Spy Ninjas fans and their families their first-ever live show experience in a theatre as Spy Ninjas continue their mission to save audiences and the internet from the evil Hackers.”

Spy Ninjas is available to view on YouTube and OTT platforms, including Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV, Roku, Tubi, and Xfinity On-Demand with new formats of Spy Ninjas in development.

Playmates is the master toy partner for Spy Ninjas with a toy line that features in-show spy gadgets, gear, and non-lethal weaponry.  Fans can role play as their favourite heroes (or villains) using the exact same gear, directly seen in the series.  Surge also signed a multi-faceted publishing deal with Scholastic for the U.S. and Canada, with the first books launching in February 2022. Additional licensing partners include Bentex for apparel, and Event Merch for the Official Spy Ninjas Store.


Genius Brands and Wolfgang Puck team for new kids’ IP

World-renowned chef and restauranteur Wolfgang Puck is expanding his global empire by partnering with Genius Brands International to create an all-new children’s brand, Wolfgang Puck’s Secret Chef Academy, for the worldwide marketplace.

Wolfgang Puck’s Secret Chef Academy will feature an animated adventure series (52 x 11 episodes) with Puck voicing his own character. Creatively collaborating with Puck, Genius Brands is also developing a global licensing, merchandising, promotions and retail programme that will feature themed subscription boxes containing fun recipes from all different types of cuisine for kids to create; a line of branded merchandise for children in categories including publishing, cooking tools, apparel and home goods; a new private food label for kids; a dedicated YouTube channel featuring short-form content; a dedicated website and social media channels, and more.

Wolfgang Puck’s Secret Chef Academy is at its core a celebration of food and culture around the world, and an exploration of how we are all connected through our shared love of eating a delicious meal,” says Wolfgang Puck. “I am extremely passionate about and committed to teaching kids and parents about nutrition and the value of cooking meals with healthy ingredients. Equally important is helping reinforce their understanding of how food goes from farm to table and touching on issues near and dear to my heart such as the elimination of global hunger. Our goal is to deliver these increasingly important messages in an easy to understand and entertaining manner. I look forward to working with my friend Andy Heyward and the Genius Brands team to fulfill a lifelong dream of reaching kids through my life’s work.”

“I have had the privilege of knowing Wolfgang for many years and have been fortunate enough to experience his culinary magic from the beginning,” says Genius Brands Chairman & CEO Andy Heyward. “I have always wanted to collaborate with him on a children’s project. His level of skill, passion, creativity and commitment is truly unparalleled. Our goal for Wolfgang Puck’s Secret Chef Academy is to create an atmosphere of ‘James Bond meets Julia Child’, with a state of the art kitchen and supersonic gadgets, all while highlighting the importance of health, nutrition and sustainability through our storylines and characters’ journeys. We are creating a one-of-a-kind immersive experience through entertainment and merchandise for worldwide distribution.”

Genius Brands Chief Brand Officer Kerry Phelan adds: “Wolfgang Puck’s Secret Chef Academy is inspired by Wolfgang’s global brand recognition, and it is incredibly important to us that we create a brand that honours his vision of delivering an experience that celebrates cuisine around the globe and teaches kids to respect and be inspired by different cultures. We truly believe the next generation will fall in love with food, friendship and family and will learn that there is nothing better than a shared meal to bring people together.”

About Wolfgang Puck’s Secret Chef Academy

World famous chef Wolfgang Puck has a lot on his plate. Besides running an international culinary empire, he is on a mission to create the greatest recipe book of all time, the quintessential cookbook of the most delectable dishes ever prepared on Planet Earth – Wolfgang Puck’s Global Guide to Gastronomy!

Wolfgang has enlisted the help of five talented kid chefs, “Wolf’s Gang,” who attend the famous “4-S”, his Secret Spago School of Scrumptious, in the basement of his flagship restaurant. Wolf sends them on missions around the world to procure iconic recipes that represent the culture and soul of the places they visit.

But each trip quickly becomes a madcap adventure when Wolfgang’s longtime rival, Foxgang Muck, sabotages them at every turn. Wolf’s Gang must outsmart “the Fox”, secure the recipe and key ingredient, and get back to Spago in time for dinner service.


Spin Master Entertainment announces new animated series, Vida the Vet

Spin Master Entertainment has announced the upcoming launch of an all-new animated series, Vida the Vet. The show is the thirteenth series to date from the creators of the preschool powerhouse franchise PAW Patrol and last year’s worldwide box office success PAW Patrol: The Movie.

Season one of the series, comprising 52 x 11-minute episodes, will debut on BBC’s CBeebies and streaming platform BBC iPlayer in the UK and Corus Entertainment’s Treehouse and streaming platform STACKTV in Canada in autumn 2023, expanding to a raft of international broadcasting partners to be announced at a later date.

Vida the Vet follows 10-year-old Vida, an animal doctor who nurtures the charming and silly woodland creatures who live outside her home. Is there a fox with a sprained paw? A turtle with an itchy toe? A tiger with an aching tooth? Then Vida is the vet for the job. With quick thinking, a doctor’s intuition and the help of her closest friends, Vida helps adorable animals and makes sure they get the care they need.

“Spin Master Entertainment has deep experience creating award-winning content and engaging stories for preschoolers that are infused with a sense of play,” says Jennifer Dodge, Spin Master’s President of Entertainment. “Featuring a gorgeous, colourful world with a distinct look and feel, Vida the Vet will enchant preschoolers and their families with curious, courageous and caring stories about a little girl and her animal neighbours who show us how to take care of ourselves and others.”

Executive produced by Jennifer Dodge, along with Spin Master’s Co-Founder, Ronnen Harary, Laura Clunie, Toni Stevens and the Emmy Award winning Jennifer Oxley (Peg + Cat, Wonder Pets) who also acts as showrunner, the series is created by Emmy Award Winner Dustin Ferrer (Esme & Roy, Peg+Cat) and will be animated by Toronto-based Jam Filled Entertainment.

Spin Master Entertainment is orchestrating a strategic global franchise roll-out and will lead consumer products cross-category licensing worldwide, starting with toys in 2024. Corus Entertainment’s Nelvana has been secured as the exclusive licensing and merchandising representative for the brand in Canada and France.

“The classic and familiar world of Vida the Vet, with its beautiful 2D artwork and core theme of nurturing love for all animals, is the perfect property to extend across all facets of children’s lives,” says André Lake Mayer, Spin Master’s SVP, Global Strategic Partnerships & Consumer Products. “We are excited to activate our growing consumer products enterprise with a fresh new property that will resonate within all key categories and regions and through strategic partnerships and promotions worldwide.”


Macmillan Children’s Books named global master publishing partner for Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget

Multi-award-winning independent animation studio Aardman has announced a second publishing deal with Macmillan Children’s Books, naming the company the global master publishing partner for Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget.

The new feature length film, directed by Sam Fell and featuring the voices of Thandiwe Newton, Zachary Levi, Jane Horrocks, Romesh Ranganathan, Daniel Mays and more, is currently in production at the Aardman studios in Bristol and is due to launch on Netflix in 2023.

Macmillan Children’s Books has acquired world rights in all languages for three years. The publishing will launch on release of the film with a picture book of the film, a novelisation, a sticker activity book and a handbook.

The new agreement follows a previous publishing programme between the companies for Aardman’s animated musical special Robin Robin, which saw a range of picture books and novelty books published.

Robert Goodchild, Commercial Director at Aardman, says: “We’ve built a great partnership with Macmillan Children’s Books through its brilliant publishing programme for Robin Robin. We’re really pleased to be building on this relationship further by releasing these exciting product lines together for Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget. The books will be the perfect film accompaniment for young fans, and we can’t wait to get started on bringing them to life.”

Belinda Ioni Rasmussen, MD at Macmillan Children’s Books, adds: “Following the success of the Robin Robin range of publishing, we are delighted to be continuing our publishing partnership with creative powerhouse Aardman to bring Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget books to life. The original Chicken Run film was the highest grossing stop-motion animation ever and is one of the jewels in the crown of Aardman’s many achievements; we could not be more excited to be collaborating with them on this range of tie-in books for this much anticipated sequel.”


Former Roblox VP Jon Vlassopulos joins advisory board at metaverse company Dubit

Dubit, the creator of metaverse experiences, games, and events for brands, has announced the appointment of Jon Vlassopulos – former Roblox VP, Global Head of Music – to its advisory board. 
Vlassopulos joins following almost three years leading music initiatives at Roblox, which reaches over 200 million users a month with games and experiences, and where he remains an advisor. The groundbreaking virtual concerts and experiences that he produced for major artists like Lil Nas X, Twenty One Pilots, KSI, 24KGoldn and Zara Larsson, reached and engaged over 100M people around the world.
Dubit recently created the first virtual experiences for the two biggest music awards shows, the BRITs and the Grammys, featuring standout virtual performances from viral UK artist Pink Pantheress and Latin star Camilo. The company is also behind Samsung’s Superstar Galaxy, which last Friday 17 June) showcased an exclusive concert from British singer-songwriter Charli XCX.
Vlassopulus will work with Dubit in a senior advisory capacity on future metaverse strategies, supporting its partnerships with brands, publishers, artists, and metaverse platforms.
Announcing the appointment, Matthew Warneford, CEO and Co-Founder of Dubit, commented: “We have had the pleasure of working closely with Jon and his team on multiple occasions over the past couple of years, and we’re thrilled he has chosen to join our advisory board. Jon’s relationships, unrivalled experience and creative production expertise will be an invaluable part of our ongoing strategy to help forward-thinking brands, artists and events activate in the metaverse.”
“Dubit became a trusted partner during my time at Roblox delivering entertaining and immersive virtual experiences for our music and brand partners,” says Vlassopulos. “The beauty of the metaverse is its power to reach and engage massive global audiences that are unreachable on other platforms and in the real world. Dubit’s ability to create experiences for this new medium that strengthens bonds between fans, brands and artists is among the best in the business. I’m looking forward to working with them to help conceive and activate many more iconic virtual events and experiences on platforms like Roblox.”
The possibilities are limitless for branded events and musical experiences in the metaverse. As well as Roblox (over 200m monthly active users), Minecraft (170m), and Fortnite (270m), newer platforms such as Core and web3 based platforms including The Sandbox are providing unprecedented choice and depth of experience for audiences.

The Adventures of Paddington coming to MENA

Paddington, the lovable bear who stole the show at the recent star-studded Platinum Jubilee concert in London, is coming to MENA, thanks to family entertainment media company Spacetoon.

In collaboration with STUDIOCANAL, Spacetoon will broadcast season 1 of 3D animation series The Adventures of Paddington on its Spacetoon TV Channel and Spacetoon GO online streaming service, in September this year. The series will be available with Arabic dubbing.

STUDIOCANAL’s Beatriz Campos, SVP Global Sales and Production, Financing, says: “We are delighted that Paddington, the world’s favourite bear, will be travelling to the Middle East to embark on exciting overseas adventures thanks to our friends at Spacetoon. He is adored by millions, both young and adult audiences, and we are sure his kind, optimistic and easy-going stories will charm all viewers throughout the region.”


Verdy x Minions streetwear collection to launch this week

Inspired by the new Illumination film, Minions: The Rise of Gru, the Minions, in collaboration with Universal Brand Development, have teamed with graphic artist Verdy – the founder of streetwear labels Girls Don’t Cry and Wasted Youth – to launch the Verdy x Minions capsule collection, now exclusively at Universal Studios Hollywood, and at Universal Studios Japan beginning June 24.

To celebrate the initiative, celebrity guests were treated to an early preview of the collection at a private party at Universal Studios Hollywood on Thursday, June 16, which featured music by DJ Zack Bia, access to the “Despicable Me Minion Mayhem” ride and the Super Silly Store – where the collection will be available for purchase – as well as photo ops with Illumination’s Minions and Verdy’s Vick character, signature cocktails, appetisers and more.

Pairing two global brands, both with massive appeal, the Verdy x Minions collection reunites the mischievous Minions with Verdy’s signature character Vick after a record-setting sell-out collaboration between the two style icons in 2020. The limited run will feature tees, hoodies, long-sleeve shirts, hats, accessories, and skate decks brought to life with graphics featuring new Minion Otto paired as a duo with Vick. Additional designs include the larger-than-life Minions featured on long-sleeve tees, as well as graphic tees and jackets with a re-imagined design of Verdy’s yellow rose in a can with the Minions creating mayhem around it.

Verdy x Minions is available exclusively at Universal Studios Hollywood, and at Universal Studios Japan beginning  June 24, 2022, with a special limited edition launching July 1, the same day Minions: The Rise of Gru arrives in cinemas, on

“I’m happy to continue my relationship with Illumination’s Minions,” says Verdy. “Having my character Vick made into a mascot and interacting with the Minions characters at the Universal Studios theme parks in Hollywood and Japan seems unreal. It is a dream come true.”

“Illumination’s Minions are global icons, and they’ve profoundly influenced pop culture and fashion worldwide,” says Scott Schiraj, Director, Franchise Management, Universal Brand Development. “Our first Verdy x Minions collaboration sold out in under 60 seconds. With fans asking for more, we’re thrilled to collaborate with Verdy on a new capsule inspired by Minions: The Rise of Gru and have strategically partnered with our Universal Studios theme parks in Hollywood and Japan, to exclusively launch the collection – serving fans with early access to these coveted limited-edition drops.”

Verdy, a graphic artist based in Tokyo, has worked with brands such as Nike, Human Made, Instagram, Levi’s, Louis Vuitton, Dover Street Market and more. In 2021, he entered the contemporary art world by having his first solo show at Takashi Murakami’s gallery, Kaikai Kiki in Tokyo.